Jun 19

Review: Nightfall

grimtreeBefore we start this review, firstly the copy we have was supplied to us discounted thanks to Grim Tree Games. You should go have a look at their website for awesome deals on board games!



I have personally been eyeing up Nightfall for a few weeks. It is one of those games that has always tempted me by the blurb on the back of the box. The idea of the game is that your are the denizens of the night, vying for control and you need to defeat your fellow opponents to claim the night as your own. You have all kinds of supernatural creatures at your disposal to help you win, and you need to choose the best of the bunch to get you there. This is a deck-building game. Designed for 2-5, it gives you plenty of room to get your mates around the table to cause some war!

The first part of the game is drafting. Everybody starts with the same starting cards, which are 12 nightfall-3dboxreasonably weak monsters. Using the drafting rules, you decide which cards will be available during the game. The rules behind this are complicated to explain but easy to do. The idea is that there are different piles (like Dominion) that you can build your deck from. Rather than just selecting from any piles, using specific “draft” cards, you draft which piles will be available during this game. Each player is given 4 draft cards, they select one from their cards then pass the draft cards left, their choice becoming their “private archive” (these are cards they can use and only them). Then repeat this for the second private archive. Finally the players select one more card to become the commons which are cards anybody can choose to purchase to use. This forms four piles that anyone can choose from.

Then we get into the gameplay! The main interesting mechanic is the “chaining”. Unlike in other games where cards can work together in a tribal sense (they are all vampires, and give each other benefits for all being vampires) instead it is based on the colour of the moon! On the top left hand corner of each card, there is the image of three moons, one large and two small. To be able to chain cards, the colour of the small moon on the last played card must match the colour of the large moon on your next card.


Your turn consists of four phases: Combat, Chain, Claim and Cleanup. The first step is the part when first reading confused me the most, as all your minions that you currently have out must attack an opponent. If your opponents have nice well built boards, you might be running your minions into their unfortunate demise. Attack of your minions is the red number in the top right hand corner. Rather differently your health is tracked by the red slashes on the edge of the card. For each damage your minions take, you turn the card 90 degrees right. Once your minions run out of health they get discarded unless they say otherwise. I found the health idea on the cards amazingly alien on first reading, but once the game got going it actually was a nice, neat method of keeping track of health totals without the requirement for dice.

Tracking damage upon players is also done in a rather interesting way. Again rather than having to depend on dice or paper – instead there are cards called Wound cards. Each time you suffer a wound you take a card and add it to your discard pile. They end up effectively being blank cards when attempting to chain and add more minions to the board, but have a catch up mechanic built into them so that when drawing your hand back to five you can discard a wound card then draw two new card. Hopefully that will help you cycle through your cards to get something that helps you!

So from a mechanics point of view, the game is reasonably sensible to understand. The rulebook SirJohnTravailcould certainly been better laid out to help understanding of how the game is played. The terminology doesn’t allow for people to pick up the game and understand the game on first reading. I can understand why the rulebook isn’t as clear as I desire though. Each time I attempt to explain the rules to someone without demonstrating I find the explanation long and sounding rather complicated.

Another thing that really saddened me about the game is while the mechanics are fun and interesting, I really didn’t get the theme to filter through gameplay at all. Artistically the cards are lovely and while slightly confusing at first, the layout makes perfect sense once use to them. At no point however did I feel any kind of supernatural vibe from the game. I didn’t feel like a denizen of the night who was defeat their opponents to being the supreme creature of all. At no point did I even get a feel for anything other than a card game. Considering the theme was what really drew me to the game in the first place it was quite disheartening.

Would I play the game again? Yes. The game itself is fun once familiar with the rules and differences between this and other deck-building games. However I certainly wouldn’t say it was my favourite deck-building game by any stretch of the imagination and I couldn’t honestly say it would be my first choice to play. Sadly Nightfall, you might end up sitting on my shelf far more than I thought you would be.

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